Arizona Police: 23-Year-Old Hiker Killed by More Than 1,000 Bee Stings

By Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi
May 27, 2016 Updated: May 27, 2016

Alex Bestler, visiting Arizona from Louisiana, was killed while hiking on the Merkle Trail within Usery Mountain Park when a swarm of bees, without provocation or warning, descended on him and a friend.

His friend, Sonya, was able to make it into a nearby restroom, providing shelter from the deadly swarm, according to a press release by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

Medical staff conducted an examination of Bestler’s body, and detectives estimated over a thousand bee stings. 

The statement said that on May 26, just before 9 a.m., the pair was attacked. After finding cover, Sonya reached out to a good samaritan willing to help. The good samaritan went back to check on Bestler, but was unable to approach him due to the “aggressiveness” of the bees.

Park employees then responded, attempting to approach Bestler—but were also forced back by the bees and their hostility.

Finally, Sergeant Romer with the Sheriff’s Lake Patrol, arrived on scene in a park utility vehicle and, with the help of two Rural Metro firefighters, was able to take Bestler into the vehicle and remove him from the scene.

While in the truck, Bestler was still covered with bees, attracting the attention of a swarm as the vehicle drove off. Finally, as the vehicle made it back to the station, the remaining bees had dissipated and firefighters were able to attempt to save his life—but it was too late.

He was transported to Desert Vista Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His body has been transported to Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office, where he is pending autopsy.

In response, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, said: “I commend Sgt. Romer for risking his life trying to save the victim. These attacks are becoming more frequent and I urge the public to be aware of their surroundings when out in these areas.”

The statement said that Sgt. Romer required treatment for multiple bee stings and cacti punctures, but has since returned to duty. There is an ongoing investigation into the matter.

Andrew Simontacchi
Andrew Simontacchi